The Philadelphia City Council voted earlier this month to call on the Biden Administration “to cancel all student loan debt and begin the transition to education as a public good” within its first 100 days. Student loan debt is a major burden for tens of millions of Americans, with an average of over $30,000 in debt per borrower. No one should have to choose between an education and a lifetime of financial hardship, but under the current system, higher education is treated as a market product, and not a communal need. The Philadelphia legislation was introduced by Working Families Party council member Kendra Brooks and demands not only the relief of currently held debt but also the reconceptualization of higher education as a public good for the long term. President Biden has previously expressed reluctance to pursue the possibility of comprehensive debt cancellation.
The US House of Representatives voted earlier this month to protect nearly three million acres of public land from mining and other extractive industries. The bill will also “protect wildlife habitat, help maintain air and water quality, store carbon, and safeguard communities against the effects of climate change.” We know that this continent’s wilderness is not an economic asset to be sold and exploited, but a public good that we all have a responsibility to live in harmony with. The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act is a meaningful first step in the fight to protect our communities from the ongoing environmental crisis, and a crucial example of how articulating our campaigns through public goods principles can lead to meaningful, enduring change.